Non-Immigrant B Visas


To legally work and reside in Thailand, a foreign citizen must first fulfil all of the visa requirements which are enumerated in the Immigration Act BE (AD 1979). Through its own internal procedures, this Act is currently administered by the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Police Department, Ministry of Interior. A foreign citizen should be familiar with the specific visa type, which he or she must secure in order to work in Thailand without unnecessary and costly delays.

There are many different types of visas, which are found under the Immigration Act, four of which usually concern an alien who is seeking to work in Thailand. A visa authorizes entry into the kingdom for a specified period of time dependent on the type of visa granted. A foreign citizen will usually enter Thailand after already having obtained any one of the following visa types: non-immigrant B (business), non-immigrant type IM (investment involving a Thai government department), non-immigrant IB (Board of Investment sponsorship), or a non-immigrant EX (skilled expert). A non-immigrant type 0 visa can be issued for any dependents of a foreign national desiring to work in Thailand.

A particular visa carries with it certain limitations regarding time and activities.

A particular visa carries with it certain limitations regarding time and activities. The permissible duration of stay inside of the country will be shown on the visa stamp entered into a person’s passport. If an individual remains in Thailand beyond the period allotted, he or she will be fined per day overstayed according to the official government fee, currently 200 baht per day. Furthermore, an alien is also prohibited from performing any function, which falls outside the specific visa category granted. An alien is well advised to comply with the limitations on a respective visa. If these limitations are disregarded (ie work is conducted on a tourist visa), the penalty could amount to one year imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding 10,000 baht.

A foreign citizen intending to work in Thailand usually enters the country on a non-immigrant type B visa obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. An alien should be cognisant of the fact that he or she will not be able to obtain the required working papers if entry into the country is made on a tourist (type TR) or transit (type TS) visa. A Thai Embassy or Consulate outside of Thailand usually requires an applicant to submit a number of items before it will grant a non-immigrant type B visa to an alien. A letter from a resident company in Thailand outlining the applicant’s position and prospective duties is the primary item that is usually necessary for the issuance of this visa type. An alien is advised to contact the chosen Thai Embassy or Consulate, in advance, in order to inquire as to what that specific Thai Government outpost requires for obtaining a visa in a respective category.

If an alien has been residing in Thailand for a minimum of three consecutive years on one-year type B visas, he or she can apply for permanent residency.

Beyond providing eligibility for a work permit, a non-immigrant type B visa can also yield other benefits. If an alien has been residing in Thailand for a minimum of three consecutive years on one-year type B visas, he or she can apply for permanent residency. Such a classification will allow an alien to avoid the trouble of yearly visa renewals, and it also provides for work permit renewal to occur on an annual basis. Furthermore, an alien with permanent residency status will be eligible to apply for Thai citizen- ship after 10 consecutive years under this classification.

A type B non-immigrant visa also entitles the holder to apply for multiple permits to leave and re-enter Thailand without having to obtain another visa. Aliens should be aware that a type B visa will be automatically terminated if an individual leaves the country without obtaining a necessary re-entry permit. An alien who will be frequently traveling out- side of Thailand is strongly advised to request a multiple entry visa in advance of leaving the country.

To further avoid delays and complications of an unwanted visa cancellation, an alien normally also obtains a one-year visa extension. The non- immigrant B visa which is initially granted will last for only 90 days. The issuance of an annual visa is considered on a case-by-case basis, and a number of documents are required to support the application for a long-term visa. The company information includes, inter alia, the following: tax records, financial data, and personnel records. Information on the applicant’s educational records and employment history will also be required. Finally, the applicant must also have already obtained a valid work permit before any consideration of a visa extension will be given by the Bureau.

It should be noted that the Immigration Bureau’s current policy is to disallow an annual visa extension if a company has fewer than seven Thai employees to each foreign national employed at the company. Representative and regional offices are the only types of entities, which are excluded from this requirement. This has presented practical problems for foreign investors who are small and/or just beginning to invest in Thailand. Often these companies desire to have an additional alien to perform certain skills, but they do not have the need to hire an additional seven Thai employees.

Notwithstanding, the Immigration Bureau requires tax records to verify that the current alien to Thai employee quota has been achieved. In lieu, a company can provide a written explanation stating that it does not require such a high number of personnel to run its operations. However, the issuance of an annual visa based on such an explanation becomes highly discretionary and will not ensure approval by any means. For a company that fails this requirement, a foreign national does have the option of leaving the country and obtaining an additional 90-day non-immigrant visa each time the previous visa expires.

The evaluation process for a long-term annual visa normally takes a few months. Consideration is undertaken at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok or the province of the company’s principal place of business. An alien is granted a temporary visa while the Immigration Bureau considers the extension. Unfortunately, denial of a visa extension cannot be formally appealed by an applicant, and an alien is then required to leave the country upon the expiration of the temporary visa. However, in a limited number of cases, an application can be resubmitted after the applicant has remedied the areas of the application, which the Immigration Bureau found to be inadequate.

Source: Skonchai & Oliver Law Consultancy Co., Ltd. For more details, visit www.visathailand.com or email Supat Skonchai at supat@visathailand.com

 

 

Those having no genuine and valid passport or document that can be used in lieu of a passport; or those having a genuine and valid passport or document for use in lieu of a passport without a visa issued by Royal Thai Embassies or consulates in foreign countries or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Exceptions are aliens for whom no visa is required in certain special instances.

2. Those who have no appropriate means of earning a living once they have entered the Kingdom.

3. Those who, having entered the Kingdom to take up employment as laborers or practice other forms of manual work that require no special skill or training, or who violate the Alien Employment Act.

4. Those who are mentally unstable or who suffer from any of the diseases proscribed in the Ministerial Regulations. (c)

5. Those who have not been vaccinated against smallpox or inoculated or undergone any other medical treatment for protection against contagious diseases, and have refused to have such vaccinations administered by the Immigration Bureau doctor.

6. Those who have been imprisoned by the judgment of a Thai court or by a lawful injunction, or by the judgment of the court of a foreign country, except when the penalty is for a petty offence or negligence or is specifically cited as an exception in the Ministerial Regulations.

7. Those who have exhibited behavior which would indicate possible danger to the public or the likelihood of their being a public nuisance, a threat to the peace or safety of the public, or the security of the public or the nation, including those under warrant of arrest by competent officials of foreign governments.

8. Those for whom there is reason to believe that entrance into the Kingdom is for the purpose of being involved in prostitution, the trading of women or children, drug smuggling or other activities that are contrary to public morality.

9. Those having no money or bond as prescribed by the Minister under Section 14. (d)

10. Those categorized as persona non grata by the Minister under Section 16. (e)

11. Those who have been deported by either the Government of Thailand or that of another foreign country; those who have been sent out of the Kingdom by competent officials at the expense of the Government of Thailand unless the Minister makes an exemption on an individual, special-case basis.

c Leprosy, infectious tuberculosis, chronic elephantiasis, drug addiction, tertiary syphilis. d Reference: announcement of the Ministry of Interior, dated 8 May B.E. 2543 (A.D.2000).

(1) At least of 10,000 baht for a holder of a transit visa or “visa not required” category and visa on arrival (at least of 20,000 baht for a family).

(2) At least of 20,000 baht for a holder of a tourist visa or non-immigrant visa (at least of 40,000 baht for a family).

e In instances where, for reasons of national welfare or the safeguarding of the public peace, culture, morality or welfare, or when the Minister considers it improper to allow any foreigner or group of foreigners to enter the Kingdom, the Minister shall have the power to exclude the said foreigner or group of foreigners from entering the Kingdom.

Note:

In cases of persons prohibited by the Ministry under Section 16 (foreigners who have been imprisoned for criminal offences involving work in professions or occupations that are prohibited by law, with exception made for minor offences, or offences committed through negligence), the Immigration Bureau will submit their names and histories to the Minister of Interior for a decision concerning the possible prohibition of the person or persons concerned from entering the Kingdom. No time limitations apply in cases of persona non grata status, so that in cases where a person who is prohibited from entering the kingdom has died, his or her children may encounter problems upon attempting to enter the country, should they share a common name. In such cases, the full name and date of birth of the applicant must be checked.

Source: Skonchai & Oliver Law Consultancy Co., Ltd. For more details, visit www.visathailand.com or email Supat Skonchai at supat@visathailand.com

 

The recent closure of a Bangkok travel agency has highlighted the dangers for foreigners wanting to stay in Thailand without leaving the country to obtain a visa. Many customers of the agency found themselves undergoing uncomfortable interviews at the Immigration offices in Bangkok.

 

The proprietor of the agency offered a convenient service: instead of the foreigner leaving the country to get a visa, he would for a price send the applicant’s passport out of Thailand, have it stamped for exit and re-entry and provide a visa from the Thai Embassy in the country the passport was sent to.

 

The advantage to the passport-holder is that he can stay in Thailand during the process and save time and money. A visa run to another country is expensive when the costs in travel and accommodation are totaled and it’s clearly attractive and economical - to leave someone else to do the work while the passport- holder remains in Bangkok.

 

Typical costs: a tourist visa for 30 days 3200 baht, a non-immigrant for 3 months 7500 baht

 

The practice of using an agent to get a visa in this way is widespread - one Westerner spoke of having used this method for over 10 years without leaving the country. He said he had never had any problems.

 

What are the dangers?

 

  • It is illegal to leaving the country is the method prescribed by the Immigration authorities for obtaining new visas

 

  • A passport has to be entrusted to strangers

 

  • The exit and re-entry stamps and/or the visa may be counterfeit

 

  • If for any reason the passport holder must visit Immigration, then anomalies may be noticed. This is certain to happen if the visa is not genuine. The consequences are not pleasant

 

  • The process relies upon connivance by officials at the border and in visa sections abroad - if anything goes wrong then the passport may be withheld whilst overseas

 

The Thai Immigration authorities understandably want to keep tabs on unwelcome visitors to the country. There is no doubt that making monthly exits and re-entries is a method used by foreign criminals using Thailand as their base.

 

But for the majority of law-abiding foreigners wishing to stay for prolonged periods in Thailand, leaving the country several times a year is an expensive inconvenience. Financially it is a disadvantage to both the foreigner and to Thailand for the money he spends abroad whilst obtaining a visa would be better spent in this country.

 

To deter criminals, the Thai authorities, mindful of the value of the one-month tourist visa to the wrongdoer, have recently limited to six the number of consecutive tourist visas which can be applied for. After the sixth month, the passport-holder must leave the country for six months before reapplying. This is a great inconvenience to anybody conducting criminal activities in the country but is unfair to bona fide foreigners wanting to spend longer in Thailand.

 

The situation is unlikely to improve until a better visa issuing system is worked out where bona fide foreigners can renew or obtain visas within this country. At present, a foreign passport-holder in need of a visa can either go on a time-consuming and expensive visa run or risk using the services of an agency to procure a visa for him without his having to leave Thailand. The chances are he will have no trouble with the latter as the method is well established and many people clearly do this with no problems.

 

But there is always a danger of a crackdown by the authorities or of documents coming back without a bona fide visa if the agency folds or other unfortunate circumstances arise.

 

 

Source: Skonchai & Oliver Law Consultancy Co., Ltd. For more details, visit www.visathailand.com or email Supat Skonchai at supat@visathailand.com

 

 

Any male foreigner who wants to stay in Thailand on a non-resident (non-immigrant) one-year visa in order to work and take care of his Thai wife, has to face quite an ordeal.

 

Before he is granted the visa, he and his wife have to undergo detailed questioning at the Immigration Bureau as well as provide a number of documents to the responsible immigration officer.

 

The ordeal does not end there, either, as it is not a one-time-only procedure. Each subsequent year that a foreigner wants to renew such a visa means repeating the ordeal, regardless of how many years he has been going the same old procedure together with the same wife.

 

Whenever a non-resident visa extension application is involved, a married couple has to undergo this procedure. Eventually, some Thai wives become embarrassed and fed up with the repetitive questioning. There may also come a time when the wife is busy looking after a baby or has to attend to some other urgent business. As a result, her husband will turn up for the annual inquisition on his own. It is understandable that such couples should assume that, after repeating the same exercise annually for several years, it is obvious the husband wants to stay in Thailand to look after his Thai family.

 

Also, because the husband must show proof of holding a permanent job with a reasonable income, as required by immigration regulations, turning up alone for the interview should not present any problems. Unfortunately, that assumption is wrong. Why? To the amazement of all who hear of such incidents, the interviewing immigration officer will demand to see the divorce documents of the foreigner, as the wife is not present. The Immigration Bureau apparently believes that if a married foreigner arrives for the interview unaccompanied by his wife, it means that he wants to change his reason for staying in Thailand to the category of business. So, they want proof of divorce. When describing such incidents to people, the first reaction is “it must be a joke!”

 

It is hard enough to apply for a non-resident visa (even when an applicant has all the required documents and other evidence), but this delving into a private matter is a bit too much. If a foreigner has a certificate proving he has been married for a number of years, that should be a good enough reason to automatically extend his visa without imposing the same troublesome interview each year. In any case, if a foreigner wants to change his reason for staying in Thailand to the business category, why should he need to show that he is divorced? If he can prove that his business is genuine, that should be sufficient evidence.

 

It is difficult to confirm such stories because there is no hard evidence that divorce documents have been demanded before a visa application is accepted for processing. The persons involved in such incidents dare not to mention the name of the officer who handled their case. We cannot confirm or deny such stories, yet from time to time we still receive complaints from those who say they have experienced the problem. Therefore, we believe the Immigration Bureau should provide an explanation to the public. A clear statement is needed on whether or not proof of divorce in such cases is officially required and, if required, why? Such a statement would not only enlighten the public, but would also serve as a guideline to those immigration officers who have to handle such cases. It would also speed up the processing of such applications.

 

Incidentally, it is possible to avoid the above annual ordeal. Any foreigner who has legally been living in Thailand for a total of at least three years is potentially eligible for a residence permit. If you would like expert advice/assistance in applying for a residence permit, or if you have any other queries about immigration or other legal matters in Thailand, contact us. The initial consultation is free.

 

 

Source: Skonchai & Oliver Law Consultancy Co., Ltd. For more details, visit www.visathailand.com or email Supat Skonchai at supat@visathailand.com

 

 

The closure a couple of years ago of a Bangkok travel agency highlighted the dangers for foreigners wanting to stay in Thailand without leaving the country to obtain a visa. Many customers of the agency found themselves undergoing uncomfortable interviews at the Immigration offices in Bangkok.

The proprietor of the agency offered a convenient service: instead of the foreigner leaving the country to get a visa, he would - for a price - send the applicant’s passport out of Thailand, have it stamped for exit and re-entry and provide a visa from the Thai Embassy in the country the passport was sent to.

The advantage to the passport-holder is that he can stay in Thailand during the process and save time and money. A visa run to another country is expensive when the costs in travel and accommodation are totalled and it’s clearly attractive - and economical - to leave someone else to do the work while the passport- holder remains in Bangkok.

Typical costs:

    * a tourist visa for 30 days - 1700 -3200 baht

    * a non-immigrant for 3 months 7 500 baht

    * a multiple non-immigrant ‘O’ visa, lasting for fifteen months - 15 000 baht

The practice of using an agent to get a visa in this way is widespread - one Westerner spoke of having used this method for over ten years without leaving the country. He said he had never had any problems.

What are the dangers?

It is illegal - leaving the country is the method prescribed by the Immigration authorities for obtaining new visas

A passport has to be entrusted to strangers.

Your Embassy will be very displeased if their staff finds out.

The exit and re-entry stamps and/or the visa may be counterfeit.

If for any reason the passport holder must visit Immigration, then anomalies may be noticed. This is certain to happen if the visa is not genuine. The consequences are not pleasant.

The process relies upon connivance with officials at the border and in visa sections abroad - if anything goes wrong, then the passport may be withheld whilst it is overseas.

The Thai Immigration authorities understandably want to keep tabs on unwelcome visitors to the country. There is no doubt that making monthly exits and re-entries is a method used by foreign criminals using Thailand as their base.

But for the majority of law-abiding foreigners wishing to stay for prolonged periods in Thailand, leaving the country several times a year is an expensive inconvenience. Financially, it is a disadvantage to both the foreigners and to Thailand for the money they spend abroad whilst obtaining a visa would be better spent in this country.

To deter criminals, the Thai authorities, mindful of the value of the one-month tourist visa to the wrongdoer, have recently limited to six the number of consecutive tourist visas which can be applied for. After the sixth month, the passport-holder must leave the country for six months before reapplying. This is a great inconvenience to anybody conducting criminal activities in the country but is unfair to bona fide foreigners wanting to spend longer in Thailand. However, whether this six-tourist visa rule is still being enforced in 2003 is being checked out now by eThailand.com.

The situation is unlikely to improve until a better visa issuing system is worked out where bona fide foreigners can renew or obtain visas within country. At present, foreign passport-holders in need of a visa can either go on a time-consuming and expensive visa run or risk using the services of an agency to procure a visa for themselves without having to leave Thailand. The chances are they will have no trouble with the latter as the method is well established and many people clearly do this with no problems.

But there is always a danger of a crackdown by the authorities or of documents coming back without a bona fide visa if the agency folds or other unfortunate circumstances arise.

And worse - the foreigner may be asked by the police to produce his passport whilst it is out of the country. Then, even a copy will not do - it will have an overdue date on it. Then Immigration jail is your next home - and possibly for some time

 

 

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